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Left Bank Cafe manager recalls living in Paris, times at Notre Dame Cathedral

Images of cathedral on display at Saranac Lake cafe

Photos and images of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris are taped onto the windows of the Left Bank Cafe Tuesday after a devastating fire ravaged the 12th century relic. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

SARANAC LAKE — Photos of the Notre Dame Cathedral, along with postcards and drawings of the structure’s 12th century construction face Broadway from the Left Bank Cafe’s windows. A gingerbread Notre Dame, and the instructions for how to build it, are adhered to the pastry shop’s window.

“You hold onto this stuff because you spend a lot of time there,” said Anne Alsina, manager of Left Bank Cafe.

Alsina lived in Paris during the ’70s, often visiting the cathedral, and viewing it from a barge on the Siene River where she worked.

A massive fire tore through the roof behind the nave of the cathedral Monday, with flames eventually climbing, and toppling its spire. No one was injured, and Paris officials have said they’ve ruled out arson or other terrorism-related motives at this time.

The cathedral was undergoing a $6.8 million renovation project on the spire and its 250 tons of lead.

Former Saranac Lake resident Elizabeth Alsina is pictured at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 20015 with her drawing of the cathedral’s spire. Alsina’s mother manages the Left Bank Cafe in Saranac Lake. (Photo provided)

“I got to live in Paris at a time when it wasn’t that crowded, and in seasons when there weren’t tourists,” Alsina said. “I would walk up to the top, not all the time, but once in a while. And a few times, I was the only one up there.”

She said one of her favorite memories was an afternoon in front of the cathedral, watching her daughter render it by hand. Alsina has the painting framed in the restaurant (and is seen on Page A9), along with dozens of other photos and books about the cathedral and its history.

Alsina said she’ll be showing “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923) for the rest of the week.

“I think what it has compelled me to do is learn more about it,” Alsina said. “As a history student, I’m interested, but the idea that that’s not there anymore …”

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